Hot Theology

On the women bishops vote scroll down.

On the nature of Theology, Bishop Laurie says: 

"I have always been very ambitious for theology. I want to bring it out of the closet, or the scholar's den, and into the world where people wrestle with the problems which radically affect their lives and the lives of those around them. When they do this, time and again, they find that theology is a tool which leads to radically new ways of seeing things - and new ways of living!

The teaching of Jesus sprang from real situations - a rich young man who wanted to know whom to help, a woman caught in adultery, rivalry and ambition among his followers; his teaching also sprang from the religious tradition he knew well. In my writings on theology I have sought to show how theology today can spring from the meeting of real situations with our understanding of tradition and I've tried to explain exactly how to do this, using a Cyclical model - similar to that which was similtaneously developed in Latin America.

One of the great Liberation Theologians, Leonardo Boff has said of my writing:  This is authentic liberation theology set within the English-speaking context: it takes instances of human experience, analyses them, reflects theologically and proposes practical ideas for transformation. I enthusiastically recommend this significant book."

Contextual Theology

A very significant paradigmatic shift has been occurring across the world with regard to how theology is understood and this shift was very evident in the UK between 1986 and 2007. The Church of England report Faithful Cities (2006) explained that during those twenty years theology had been influenced very significantly by urban ministers and practitioners. Their work led us away from thinking of theology as a set of pre-constructed formulae which are then ‘applied’ to a situation and into a realisation that since God is already in the situations we experience, we can learn more about God simply by observing  what God is doing in those situations. That hands-on learning we call ‘doing theology’. It's theology in particular context so it's also often termed,  ‘Contextual Theology’.

We have to be careful though, because many institutions and theologians who claim to offer contextual theology are actually still working the old ‘applied theology’ mode without realising it, or owning up to it. Even some of those who write with enthusiam about this model of theology, remain theoretically stuck with the old model - read their work and see how they still don't use the contextual methodology when they are talking or writing about other matters.

It was back in 1987 that I eventually wrote up the contexual theology method we'd developed over the years. It was a book called Power to the Powerless, and to my surprise it was chosen by the Church Times as one of its Books of the Year. Eric James wrote that it was the first true example of a Base Ecclesial Community, or church group, doing contextual theology that he knew. Visiting theologians from Latin America said the same about the parish work on which the book was based. Since that time I've written Let’s Do Theology which is now in a new edition and which remains a set text on Contextual Theology in many theology courses around the world.The new edition shows that since those early days there are many now working in this field, and the book seeks to describe how various models operate but each with the intention of starting our theologising fromt he experience which God gives us.   In my retirement I'm enjoying leading seminars on this subject and seeing people of all ages turning on to theology which really makes sense of their life with God.

To see more details about these and other books go to the My Books page.

Below you'll find more links to papers and articles that I've written on the nature of theology or you can click across to Other Writings


An open letter following the defeat in General Synod on 20th Nov 2012

Jesus wept. It was when he was surrounded by his dear friends in their grief and loss - the loss of someone so dear to them and to himself. (John 11:35) Today we weep too at the loss of something we hold to be of God and for God. The passage continues by telling us that as Jesus wept some bystanders accused him of being out of touch with the needs of those he had come to save - "could he not have prevented this man's death?" The credibility of his mission was at stake, and oh, how we feel that this vote has damaged the credibility of all the Church's work for God's justice in today's world.
At that point Jesus could have allowed the passion of grief to overwhelm his resolve, but instead we read that even "as he continued to sigh with heartfelt anguish" he went on to the tomb - the very place where the decay and stench was most evident - and commanded that his friends roll the stone away. How difficult it must have been for them when all seemed evidently lost. But where their own resolve was lacking, his will was still to be done. Even amidst this horror they therefore lent their weight to the task and let no set-back deter them.
We are told that Jesus then prayed - first in thankfulness to his Father for giving new life where there had been only death. And next he prayed for those who were witnessing all this, that as Lazarus walked at last from the grave they might realise all the more, because of their present grief, the majesty of the liberative changes he had come to bring.
But yet there is more. For when Lazarus walks from the tomb he is still rapped around with the old grave clothes - there is still more for Jesus' followers to do. When at last the Church owns that women must be made bishops our task will not end there. It will still be necessary for us to scrape away from our Church of England all the ragged and putrid grave clothes that are the abiding consequence of allowing the domination of men in our church through the ages. There will always be work to do for God's Kingdom, in the Church and outside it, until God's Kingdom comes - as it assuredly will!
God bless us all.
Bishop Laurie Green


Oral Culture and the World of Words, A paper given at the Theological Education by Extension Forum Conference, January 1998

Common Religion Today, A lecture at Manchester Cathedral, February 1999

Oral Culture and the World of Words, Theology, September 1999 (This is a shorter version of the paper above which was given at the Theological Education by Extension Forum Conference)

Reading the Bible in Context

Introducing 'Political Theology', January 2002

Enriching our Theology, Lincoln Diocesan Day, 2005

The Trinity and the Local Church, Willesden Episcopal Area Conference, Swanwick, October 1997

Show us the Father, Sermon at Brentwood School, January 1999

Power to the Powerless - Theology Brought to Life, Marshall Pickering, 1987, ISBN 0-551-01570-1

David Sheppard introducesthis unique and stimulating book which challenges our understanding of what theology is, who it is for, and calls into question the whole pattern of theological training and Christian Ministry.

POWER TO THE POWERLESS traces what happens when theology is lifted out of the confines of academia and is placed in the hands of ordinary Christians in a working class parish in Birmingham.

Exploring the meaning of the parables for their own inner-city setting, they draw out a stunning analysis of the urban dilemma and discover a moving, powerful theology with which to confront and change the problems which blight peoples' lives and make the teachings of Jesus live in their locality.